Thursday, 21 October 2010
Making the poorest pay
Are we really supposed to swallow the lie that these cuts are in any way fair?
Look at the evidence and it is clear that they are very grim news for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Earlier this week Osborne compared benefit fraudsters to "muggers", but he showed himself to be the mugger-in-chief as he took another £7bn out of the welfare budget to add to the £11bn he stole in June.
And for all his talk it is people who are working who will bear much of the brunt.
There is myth in this country (fed by the media) that there are workers and then there are benefit claimants. In fact millions of low-paid workers are receiving tax credits and housing benefits as it is the only way to survive on criminally low wages and criminally high rents. It is these benefits which face the biggest cuts.
Two ways to drastically reduce the cost of housing benefit would be to introduce statutory rent controls and a minimum wage of at least the European decency level. But such measures would not sit well with the Tories' big business friends - which is presumably also why the government isn't very interested in collecting their unpaid taxes -something which would raise £120bn all by itself.
We are also told that cutting welfare spending will protect public services, but local government is to be decimated with cuts amounting to 30% over 4 years. Nearly half a million jobs are threatened in the public sector. Make no mistake, this means the disappearance of whole services.
In addition to pay freezes, public sector workers may have to pay another 2% towards their pensions. Faced with the choice of eating today or saving for retirement tomorrow, many younger members of pensions schemes will vote with their feet. They will claim benefits when the time comes - which will cost taxpayers more than properly funded pension schemes would have done.
Two crucial myths need to be challenged -
- that the cuts are a financial necessity - in fact they are a political necessity driven by neo-liberal ideology.
- that the cuts are "democratic" - in fact this ramshackle coalition that no-one voted for has no mandate whatsoever for these cuts.
We need a movement to challenge this, but the left is weak because it chose to indulge itself in the luxury of political infighting for 10 years when it should have been building a credible left alternative to New Labour.
So we will need to build from the ground up and build a broad movement which is not the property of any group or faction and which will draw in those people who will want to fight the cuts which will impact on them.
The Stop the Cuts Coalition in Brighton is a start, but it needs to draw in as many people as possible who want to do something.
We need a bit of Paris on the streets of Brighton!
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